October 26th, 2010
Collaborating with the World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) held a meeting to mark the launch of the first report on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Geneva on October 14. Led by the head of R&D for Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical division, Paul Stoffels, J&J made the announcement of expanding its donation of mebendazole for intestinal worms. This is part of the larger global commitment to maternal and child health around the world. It was a momentous occasion to make such an announcement in the executive boardroom at the WHO in the company of country ambassadors, leaders of governmental and non-governmental agencies, foundations, and CEOs and senior leaders of the major multinational pharmaceutical companies. Along with J&J, all present made commitments to treat and tackle the top neglected tropical diseases that afflict the underserved people around the world, especially women and children.
It was especially unique in that this is the second time in 6 weeks that Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the WHO, took time out of her busy schedule to chair meetings to assemble the major stakeholders in the global effort to eliminate or control the NTDs. This is an undeniable indication that she and her team at the WHO are committed to making progress in this area. In addition, she made laudatory remarks on J&J’s engagement in global health. It is rare for an organization such as the WHO to embrace the contributions of J&J and other Pharma and openly stating that the WHO will be working closely with us in the coordination of activities to ensure that we are effective in achieving the desired impact. It is most exciting because it is the first time in the 4 years that I have been working on neglected tropical diseases that I am seeing the critical momentum and mass that gives hope that we will be able to achieve the targets set forth for treatment and prevention of intestinal worms that affect hundreds of millions of children around the world.